Monday, December 10, 2007

Service Included

In anticipation of this weeks' dinner at Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York City, I stopped by Borders yesterday and picked up Phoebe Damrosch's Service Included, a 226 page tome detailing her year working for one of America's top restaurants.

For me, it's an interesting book. A glimpse into the world of Per Se and The French Laundry. How they do things. The way they think. What makes them "the best." So enthralled I was to read this book that I powered through it and finished it just a few minutes ago. For those interested in the inner-workings of a fine dining restaurant, this book offers that insight and that's where it's strength lies.

However, the latter portion of the book details her burgeoning relationship with Andre the sommelier. At first, it's little details but by the last two chapters, it's entirely about their relationship, their trip to Vermont, their time in a Central Park West diner and the weight of being given a key to his apartment - mostly topics that only hardcore New Yorkers care about and a complete diversion from the core of the book.

Prior to that, it's chock full of insight and stories from Per Se. The training leading to the opening. The trials of the "Friends and Family" dinners. Problematic and quirky customers. The burning down of the house during its' first week of service. For those interested in service, these early chapters are worth the book alone.